Spiritual novels have always fascinated me. I don’t exactly know the reason behind that but one part of my soul always has been veered towards matters regarding spirituality. I like it when tornadoes of the soul- searching would happen in the lives of the protagonists, their moments of self- doubts, consternations, the way spiritual questions would wreak havoc in their lives.
Recently I finished ‘Shunya’ by Sri M, known all over as a mystic. I’ve already read his autobiography- Apprenticed to a Himalayan master. That was a fascinating read. This time, this novel I enjoyed a lot and gave me lots of food for thoughts.
Sadashivan, known in the local parlance as Sada Annan (Annan means elder brother in Malayalam), mysteriously meets a bizarre Swamiji, known by his strange name- Shunya. (Shunya means nothing. What a strong metaphor!!).Impressed by the behaviour of this Swami, Sada Annan offers him food and accommodation near his toddy shop. Nobody knows about his whereabouts.
Soon a graduate from MIT arrives, namely Kumar, whom Shunya would affectionately address as ‘ Thambi’ (Younger brother). The story further develops when some of the locals begin to begrudge the presence of this weird ascetic. Issues start when Swami helps a Hindu teacher, named Meenakshi to marry her Muslim Boyfriend Salim. The enraged ‘religious readers’ hatch plots to murder the swami.
Also, many of his bizarre actions create panic and embarrassment among the public. He always behaves childishly but then legends like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa also had their moments of so-called bizarre actions. So we can’t judge a sadhu by his shabby appearance or his weird behaviours. Shunya is the name he calls himself. Nobody knows his real name or identity. He always says he is just the ‘infinity’. In the end, he disappears without a trace, without revealing who he was.
There are episodes of practices such as black magic in this novel, done by a rival of the Shunya Swami. That involves the presence of ‘ Yakshis’ (beautiful female vampires of Kerala). I don’t want to reveal much so all I can say is this is a good novel only if you are into spirituality.
My Thoughts on the theme of the novel
I’ve always respected Sri. M. I got to know about his existence after reading his autobiography- Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master. As I said earlier, we can’t make a logical point of view when it comes to spiritual matters. In his autobiography, Sri. M has claimed that he has met the 2000-year-old legendary Mahavatar Babaji. In this small novel also, there are episodes when the main protagonists do things such as levitation.
I’ve been a sceptic all my life, almost an agnostic, yet to become an atheist. Still, I believe some things cannot be solved by science alone. Sometimes we all want to believe in miracles right? Kind of an idiosyncrasy perhaps.
So in conclusion, this is a fine spiritual novel if you can read it without putting on that thick glasses of scepticism.